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It is shown that the inclusion of hadronic interactions, and in particular nuclear potentials, in simulations of heavy ion collisions at the SPS energy range can lead to obvious correlations of protons. These correlations contribute significantly to an intermittency analysis as performed at the NA61 experiment. The beam energy and system size dependence is studied by comparing the resulting intermittency index for heavy ion collisions of different nuclei at beam energies of 40A, 80A and 150A GeV. The resulting intermittency index from our simulations is similar to the reported values of the NA61 collaboration, if nuclear interactions are included. The observed apparent intermittency signal is the result of the correlated proton pairs with small relative transverse momentum Δpt, which would be enhanced by hadronic potentials, and this correlation between the protons is slightly influenced by the coalescence parameters and the relative invariant four-momentum qinv cut.

The effect of nuclear interactions on measurable net-proton number fluctuations in heavy ion collisions at the SIS18/GSI accelerator is investigated. The state of the art UrQMD model including interaction potentials is employed. It is found that the nuclear forces enhance the baryon number cumulants, as predicted from grand canonical thermodynamical models. The effect however is smeared out for proton number fluctuations due to iso-spin randomization and global baryon number conservation, which decreases the cumulant ratios. For a rapidity acceptance window larger than Δy > 0.4 the effects of global baryon number conservation dominate and all cumulant ratios are significantly smaller than 1.

A deep convolutional neural network (CNN) is developed to study symmetry energy (Esym(ρ)) effects by learning the mapping between the symmetry energy and the two-dimensional (transverse momentum and rapidity) distributions of protons and neutrons in heavy-ion collisions. Supervised training is performed with labeled data-set from the ultrarelativistic quantum molecular dynamics (UrQMD) model simulation. It is found that, by using proton spectra on event-by-event basis as input, the accuracy for classifying the soft and stiff Esym(ρ) is about 60% due to large event-by-event fluctuations, while by setting event-summed proton spectra as input, the classification accuracy increases to 98%. The accuracies for 5-label (5 different Esym(ρ)) classification task are about 58% and 72% by using proton and neutron spectra, respectively. For the regression task, the mean absolute errors (MAE) which measure the average magnitude of the absolute differences between the predicted and actual L (the slope parameter of Esym(ρ)) are about 20.4 and 14.8 MeV by using proton and neutron spectra, respectively. Fingerprints of the density-dependent nuclear symmetry energy on the transverse momentum and rapidity distributions of protons and neutrons can be identified by convolutional neural network algorithm.